Lizzyspit: Home/ Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves

It was last year that Lizzyspit or Elizabeth Knights to her Mum, first captured our attention with her outstanding EP I’m Alive You Know, a release which enchanted not only us but also the likes of Emily Sandé, Janice Long, and Steve Lamacq, and a growing wave of new fans. Since then she has seemed relatively quiet though that is probably down to the fact she has relocated across the globe. The London girl has gone and moved to South West Australia, and there we were about to offer her an all expenses slap up meal, oh well. Now settled she has returned with her acoustic guitar primed and ever captivating voice in full song with a double A-sided single Home/ Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.

The two tracks were recorded last year before Lizzyspit made her big move and were songs which found an eager reception when introduced in her live shows previously. Teaming up with producer/designer Matt Schonborn who worked on her previous single Talk You Down, she recorded the pair of songs just before 2011 closed her eyes and it has to be said they are arguably the best thing she has done to date.

Home is a song about a surfer who is prevented from going home to the ocean by his life in the city, the track visiting the emotions behind the situation and its developing journey to a heart fulfilling conclusion. The song can be translated to any personal life where one is prevented or removed from where the love and heart truly is and makes for a thoughtful and provocative piece of songwriting. Lizzyspit caresses the ear with her again and to be honest now expected exceptional vocals and emotive grace as she offers  understanding and comfort to the focus of the song and any personal issue that it maybe incites. It is a wonderful song which confirms her as one of the most engaging and impressive indie folk artists in the world.

Obviously Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves is a cover of the Cher classic and what a fine version it is. The fully impressive thing about it though is that Lizzyspit has not taken the easy route as most artists seem to do and simply covered it. She has turned it into her own song, reinvented it with an emotional and haunting breath to create an easy rival in quality and power to the original. With absorbing harmonies and an electric presence behind her acoustic tenderness and deeply expressive vocals, the song is immense and further unveils the imaginative and creative craft of Lizzyspit.

Released June 25th this wonderful single should elevate her into a wider realm of recognition and acclaim.

To mark the release, Lizzyspit is giving fans the opportunity to win a personally written song. Fans can tweet the singer (@Lizzyspit) their reactions to the new record Home/Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves. One winner will be selected at random and the song, when written, will be videoed and uploaded to her social networks.

Lizzyspit will be back in the UK this September, and will be performing a series of gigs, live in the flesh. Watch this space for further details.

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Lykaion : Nothin’ But Death

After an initial uncertainty about the release the debut album from Italian rockers Lykaion emerged as one strongly pleasing and enjoyable slab of blended metal and rock. Nothin’ But Death is a stylish mix of heavy metal, hard rock, thrash, and melodic metal. It arguably does not offer anything new to metal sound wise but has a fully loaded adrenaline driven heart which is irresistible.

As mentioned first contact left an uncertainty which was wholly down to the vocals of Alessandro Sforza. Now he is not a bad vocalist, far from it but suffers from just having one of those singing voices which personally grates. He has an unfortunate effect of making ones senses bristle rather like sucking through a straw, oh that is just me too? He is a very good vocalist we just needed to put any words into context which maybe lead to a differing impression.  Musically the band hit the mark instantly and persistently, the twin guitar creativity of Sforza and Fabio Valentini impressively incisive and imaginative whilst the bass of Alessandro Esposito is an impactful and at times brooding force behind. Add the formidable drumming of Andrea Alberati and you have a quartet which delivers melodic metal to consistently intrigue and excite.

From Roma Lykaion formed in 2003 with the likes of Sentenced, Katatonia, and Nevermore inspiring their full and uncompromising brew of strong sounds. Their debut EP of 2006 The Things I´ve Left and its successor the Swallowed By The Sea EP, drew strong interest and response to confirm an already impressive acclaim for their live shows throughout Italy. With the band recently signing a deal with Bakerteam Records for the release of their first album, one gets a feeling their time to break into a wider audience and recognition is now especially with the strong and overall impressive sounds within Nothin’ But Death.

The title track opens up the album with initial gentle chords and grace before being bowled over by thunderous rhythms and muscular riffs. That melodic touch is persistent though and permeates the powerful surge until it subsides for the more gentile face of the song to take centre stage. The vocals of Sforza come in and the senses are unconcerned and it is not until the song and he shows a greedier intensity that he receives his undeserved resistance. The song though is a great stomp across the ear with carefully crafted guitar play intertwining with heavy weight riffs and energy. It seems briefer than it actually is but that is soon forgotten as the rampaging A Cold Summer Day confronts with again a powerful aural attitude and expertly structured melodies and harmonies. Lykaion have an impressive ability to bring a unique and persistently successful seamless union of tumultuous heavy shadowed sounds and startling melodic beauty, each at ease when hand in hand without any diminishing of their full effect.

The outstanding Free From All Your Fears carries on the great beginning though its successor takes a large step back but that is undoubtedly down to again the unintended personal response to the vocals and the song being a power ballad of sort, he had no chance really.

The heart and best moments of the album comes in a consecutive trio of tracks and they alone ensure the release is worth more than a moment of any ones time. The first is The Dance which has a devoted  fan just from its heavily grizzled bass line intro. The feisty incessant rampant riffs and prowling breath of the song only goes to concrete the instant response and as it expands to its full height the song is a contagious confrontation of stirring riffs, depleting energy, and scorching melodic guitar.

The following Fuck You (I Love Myself) and Passion Kills in their own distinct ways build on and accelerate that enthused reaction. The first is a defiant storm of contemptuous riffing and unapologetic emotion, its middle finger presence brought into clearer context by the wonderful almost inciting melodic touches and imagination. The second of the two is the best track on the release, its relentless dark niggling riffs and greedy purpose completely infectious. The track twists and winds around the senses with the firmest hand and most instinctive heart to ensure nothing but adoration its way, and at one point even the vocals found a friend.

With further songs like the excellent Sick Love and Dimenticherai to ensure nothing but satisfaction, Nothin’ But Death is an excellent release which without venturing into openly new pastures brings one of the strongest and most enjoyable rock albums of the year. Just before we end we just need to say those immortal words to Alessandro Sforza, it’s not you it’s me.

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Geva Alon : The Great Enlightenment

With his fourth album due for release in July Israeli singer songwriter Geva Alon could not have given a better teaser and enticement to the forthcoming release than with his new single The Great Enlightenment. A senses caressing yet emotionally haunting song it sets up a definite anticipation and enthused interest for new album In The Morning Light due July 16th.

From playing with his indie rock band The Flying Baby for many years and Shay Noblemen, Alon has over the past few years become a major name in his homeland from his solo work and live shows which have seen him play alongside the likes of Paul Weller and Yo La Tengo and more recently wider afield acclaim with a Spanish and Israeli tour alongside Depedro, the new project from Calexico collaborator Jairo Zavala. His debut solo album of 2006 Days of Hunger brought his country-flavoured acoustic guitar inspired sounds to notice, the following releases The Wall of Sound in 2007 and Get Closer of 2009 which was produced by Thom Monahan (The Jayhawks, Silver Jews, Dinosaur Jr.) as are the new single and album, strengthening his ever growing recognition and acclaim. From the evidence of the new single his new album will only accelerate things again in and outside Israel as will a series of live shows in the UK this month.

The Great Enlightenment emerges upon the ear with an instant striking atmosphere brought by the emotive guitars and attentive rhythms. With a lovely melancholic bass moodily permeating the song there is an immediate sense of drama to the dreamy ambience. As the excellent tones of Alon expand the song brings a dawning of realisation within the warm lingering yet slightly unsettled air. The song is outstanding and draws thoughts and feelings which could quite easily have been inspired by a Twin Peaks episode. Alon vocally has been compared to the likes of Neil Young and Nick Drake and it is probably the most accurate description though his voice has a class and uniqueness all of its own which sets him apart.

The guitar prowess of Alon and fellow guitarist Daniel Hindman from folk band Vetiver is ear catching, both aided and complimented by the fine talent of Rufus Wainwright bassist Jeff Hill and drummer Otto Hauser, the quartet coming together to create a mesmeric song which inspires and enchants equally.

If you had any second thoughts or uncertainty about investigating In The Morning Light upon its unveiling just listen to The Great Enlightenment, it has all the reasons and persuasion you need.

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Offending: Age of Perversion

Taking its heart and breath from the US seeded strain of early death metal, French band Offending has brought a fresh if not new air to the genre with their second full length release Age of Perversion. It is an album which wears its influences like battalion colours and engages and assaults the senses like a merciless determined force. It does not venture too far into new pastures or ignite the fiercest fires with its sounds but the album is far more intriguing and absorbing than most, its skilled play and perpetually contagious imagination ensuring a full and satisfying experience each and every time.

The Bordeaux based quintet of vocalist Jesus The Butcher, a man with a tar like bestial delivery, the striking and inventive guitarists GP and Cyriex, and a rhythm section to incite the deepest primitive instincts in bassist Yoni and V.R. on drums, send the ear and senses reeling with a sound recalling the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Vile, Hate Eternal. Up to this point the band has grabbed a mounting attention through their 2005 demo as well as stage sharing with the likes of Killers, Genital Grinder, Necropsy, and Prophecy. They further accelerated that interest with 2007 mini CD The Destruction of The Human Spirit which marked the debut to the band of Butcher and Yoni, and their greatly received debut album Human Concept of 2010 through Deepsend Records who have also released the new album. Age of Perversion has found the band deepening their obvious creative skill and thought whilst emerging as a release which is brutally intrusive and infectiously manipulative, and sure to increase the acclaim.

The album opens with Infested By His Burden. The track offers an initial sinister and ominous crawl to its energy with the guitars almost teasing the ear whilst the rhythms behind have an insistent but yet to be demanding intensity. It cannot hold back for long though and soon the song is eagerly feasting upon the ear with incisive and divisive guitar craft and drum intimidation. As the track evolves it changes in to an even more combative militant gait, the previous insistence becoming a domineering violence. Though by its end one finds it easier to remember particular elements than the song as a whole it is still one of the more gratifying tracks whilst in its abusive company.

A triplet of consecutive highlights next follows, a trio of exceptional tracks which leave the others on the release in their wake. Firstly there is Within This World, a track with a hunger to twist and manipulate the senses like a military trained wizard, their consumptive intensity consistent and devastatingly exact whilst completely mesmeric. The blend of technical persuasion and bludgeoning malevolent is impressive and entirely insatiable in its desire and ones welcoming. This rampaging melodically armed annihilation leads into the equally ravenous Modern Enslavement. It is like its predecessor a track which blinds one with its dazzling guitar invention and scorched melodic beckoning to the overwhelming destructive purpose of the storming intensity around it. Though not quite as contagious as the previous song it is equally outstanding and thrilling.

The third of the strongest peaks on the album comes in the shape of best track of all, Dominion XXI. The song captures a pure infection with its melodically bleeding riffs and hypnotic rhythms, using the combination as a lure for the senses in the face of another full strength bone splitting strike. There is an anthemic pull for the emotions from the song, its urgent inciteful energy and drive sparking eruptions of instinctive dormant malignance.

These three tracks are worth an investigation of Age of Perversion alone but are ably supported by the likes of the venomous Religion Depravity, the corrupting title track, and the synapse rioting Hopeless Submission, all making for an album which is a very worthy use of any ones time.

Age of Perversion as mentioned is maybe not the most original release and apart from the truly outstanding threesome of quality arguably lacks further immense artillery to constantly enflame the heart. It is though one of the more pleasing and enterprising albums from the genre and easily a companion to share multiple times with and that is what it is all about surely.

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